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Foodie walking tour of Rome

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When I was looking for things to do in Rome, besides seeing the famous sites (which were almost all shrouded for restoration), I convinced @WineGuyTO that we should do a food tour. We had looked at them before for Montréal, but ended up making our own (Montréal Beer Tour).  After a lot of searching, we choose the Eating Italy tour of Trastevere, as it was close to where we were staying.  This is one of 3 tours that the company offers in Rome (the same tour at night with different locales, and a tour of Testaccio), as well as cooking classes.  The company is young, but has already set up tours in Rome, London, Amsterdam and Prague.  The tour runs for around 4 hours, but they went by very quickly!  We visited 10 local shops where we interacted with the owners, sampled what they were known for and learned both the history of the area and what we were eating.


Our first stop, a bakery.




Our sample.


Supplì, similar to arancini  but typical of Rome. This is a food that people grab as a mid-morning snack.


Ours had tomato and cheese inside, mixed with rice.


Next up a butchery. Slicing our porchetta up.


The porchetta. Thin, moist and flavourful.


A farmer’s market in the square. Lots of fresh veg and fruit. Multiple generations represented too.


At the back of the square and the farmer’s market is the cheese shop.


Melon, prosciutto and fig sampled in the market. All so fresh.


The artisanale gelateria. Some of the strangest flavours I have seen, but so good!


My cup, the pensiero and mint chocolate.


The gelateria.


Al forno. At the front, ready made ‘pizza’ on focaccia bread. In the back we watched them taking the breads out of the oven to cool.


Some of the pizzas we could sample.


Lunch! We sat down for this meal in a restaurant. Gnocchi, risotto and ravioli.


Last stop was an enoteca in the original Jewish Quarter. This cellar is one of the oldest in Rome. Some artefacts found here are in the Vatican Museum.



Exploring Buffalo

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I saw a friend of mine recently who asked what I had done over the weekend, and I replied with “visited Buffalo”.  To which she replied “to shop?” and I said “no”.  Confused, she asked what we could have done then.


I love Art Deco and old buildings, and Buffalo has lots.  We frequently stay at the Hyatt Regency as it is right downtown and easy walking distance to everything.  Really the way Buffalo was laid out (think spokes on a wheel) makes it easy to explore.  As do the signs in the downtown core which explain the architectural features of the city, past and present.  So late Friday afternoon, we walked around.

The Hyatt is built around the old Genesee Bank

The Hyatt is built around the old Genesee Bank

We explored City Hall, going to the very top (for free) to walk around the observation deck.  Inside there were murals that traced historically the development of Buffalo and highlighted key events.  I loved the interior of the City Hall lobby with its soaring Art Deco decorations, the elevator banks with their distinct doors and even outside the inlay at the top of the building with its geometrical shapes.


Elevators on the main floor of City Hall.


Ceiling in the elevator area of City Hall.


View from the top of City Hall. You can see the how the streets have been laid out.


The ceiling outside at the entrance to City Hall.

Right outside City Hall there are numerous examples of period architecture ranging from pre 1900 to current.  We walked around a lot Friday, finding pockets of restaurants and historical homes.  There is a Mansion Row with stately homes, next to brightly coloured houses.  We had a drink in the Hotel Lafayette, whose Pan American bar  boasted a hunting room with a fireplace big enough to fit at least 5 people standing up.  We continued wandering around downtown and Allentown for the afternoon before stopping for a patio drink. For dinner, we went to West Chippewa where it seemed the nightlife was and chose a bar with local/state beers on tap.  This is a goal when we travel to try as many local brews as we can, and Buffalo offers many beers from NY state.

The Prudential Building.  Intricate terra cotta facade

The Prudential Building. Intricate terra cotta facade

Hard to see but there are two Statue of Liberties at either end of the roof.

Hard to see but there are two Statue of Liberties at either end of the roof.

Saturday was for the typical Canadian Buffalo visit – Target and Trader Joe’s! We wandered around more, swam in the hotel pool and then went to Pearl Street Brewery for dinner.  Pearl Street has created a Brewery District in Buffalo (one bar was the Pan American at the Lafayette) where their own microbrews can be found.  Dinner was not as memorable as our previous visit there unfortunately, but as always the beers were good.

We always try to visit a museum when travelling.  The Albright-Knox Art Gallery , found across from the University, was a great way to spend Sunday morning.  Did you know that if you have an AGO contributing membership that you get in free as part of their reciprocal benefits? Or visit the AKAG on a Sunday when it is also free!  We loved wandering around the building and exploring the exhibition Overtime: The art of work.

Last on our visit was walking around the neighbourhood of Elmwood Village and brunch.  This neighbourhood was bright, friendly and had numerous shops, restaurants and green spaces and really felt like a small town.  We decided on brunch at the Blue Monk because of their extensive beer list.


We really enjoyed exploring Buffalo.  We heard that there is a beer festival in the summer, maybe a return trip?

The rest of April’s DDTC

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So since my Easter wine post, we were quite restrained in our wine drinking for the rest of April.  We only opened two bottles (but did gift one as well!).

First we opened a lovely 2004 La Misión Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Viña William Févre. The colour was brick red, with a nose of blueberry, currants and a hint of tobacco.  The fruits were very present and not overshadowed by the tannins at all.  It could have sat for at least another 4-5 years, and it a very good cost for the quality.  We paired this with a meat lasagna.


The next week we had tortière (I am sensing a meat theme on Wine Wednesdays) and opened a 2011 Organized Crime Pipe Down, which is a cabernet blend from Beamsville.  We love the story behind the winery which is told through their labels. Worth the visit to hear the story! The wine is still young so the colour was a deep red.  The nose shows berries and was balanced well between the tannins and the fruits.  Definitely looking forward to opening this after it cellars more.


And because if we don’t drink it, giving it away still counts!  A vintage bottle of Magnotta Chardonnay was given as a hostess gift.

**New! Since the goal is one bottle a week, I am going to keep track of how well we are on our way.  As of this post we are at week 19 and have drank 16 bottles (+1 given away).  So we are a little behind!  17/52

Easter and DDTC

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Easter means spring! And even though the weather has warmed up and most of the snow is gone, on the long walk we took with the dogs today I could have happily worn earmuffs thanks to a strong, cold wind.

Easter also means that we are at our off-site storage location, aka my parents, so though the selection is plenty, it is heavily red and riesling. @WineGuyTO dug around and found a 2007 Flat Rock Twenty Mile Bench Chardonnay that complemented both the fish for Good Friday and the ham for Easter dinner.


The colour was light straw but very buttery, somewhat lighter than what @WineGuyTO was expecting.  The nose showed some butter and the evidence of oak barrels.  The flavours definitely balanced nicely with some acidity to complement the fruits and alcohol.  I found a note of toasted wood on the palate, with a medium finish that was pleasant.

**I have decided to amalgamate all DDTC posts in a monthly post going forward.  So stay tuned for the rest of April at the end of the month!

Pinterest inspired Easter Treats

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Originally published April 2012

I don’t think I am alone in the craze that is pinning on Pinterest.  Most of what I have pinned/liked have been recipes.  I was inspired by two pins this Easter, mainly because I am addicted to Cadbury Mini Eggs and needed to use up the kilogram bag I had.  Also being a 4 day weekend for me, I actually had some time to bake.

First up was the easy recipe from The Happy Baker: Mini Egg Shortbread cookies.  I only had one problem with the recipe, it did not give  an idea of how much one batch would make, so I doubled the recipe.  75 cookies later…..

Everyone at work loved them, and because it is shortbread, I can easily freeze them to eat throughout the year. They were the right texture and the chocolate was a nice crunch without  overwhelming the cookie.

Next up was a picture I saw, and after some digging, found out it was from the Peeps website; a cake made to look like a sunflower.  I did a chocolate fudge double layer cake with chocolate buttercream (real butter!) and raspberries in the middle.  This did not turn out quite how I hoped as I thought that having the Peeps upside down would look better.  Unfortunately, I could not secure them and turned them right-side up (which is actually how they were supposed to be once I looked back at the website again). This made the end result messy, and being just a little bit of a perfectionist at times, did not make me feel that I had done a good job.

That being said,  there was just enough left at the end of the workday so that @WineGuyTO could have a slice 🙂

Pinot goes with everything DDTC

When you sit in traffic for double your normal commute, you look forward to Wine Wednesday.  Tonight was about leftovers (schnitzel) so we were not looking to pair anything specific.  Strangely we did not have any riesling in the wine fridge, so I went down to the cellar to find a Pinot Noir and pulled out Flat Rock’s Gravity 2009.

IMG_0527 IMG_0528

At first impression, from the nose there is a slight barnyard earthiness with cherries in the background.  The colour is brick red with good clarity.  The flavours are full of ripe red fruits, a hint of tannins and good balancing acidity.  The finish is medium with the cherries and a hint of spice at the end.  And it goes well with Cadbury Mini Eggs 😉

DDTC Memories from March Break

You may remember my trip to Sonoma a few years ago (Redwoods, wine and convicts).  This year we went to the Mayan Riveria (more on that in a different post) and just got back in time to open a bottle from the cellar and make sure we did not miss a week in our Drinking Down the Cellar challenge.  The wine we choose one from that Sonoma trip, Il Cuore, the Heart Barbera 2009. We opened it and then went to diner so that it could breathe.


Trying to get light through it to show the gorgeous dark red of the wine.


It had a deep ruby colour that was almost purple, really evident on the cork which had crystals developing.  The nose is quite soft, with balanced fruits and mellow tannins.  The finish was medium and pleasant.  It was an interesting blend of Barbera, zinfandel, merlot and syrah.

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